Unhappy Young Australians: a domain approach to explain life satisfaction change in children
Australian happiness levels are known to decline between the age of 15 and 23 by almost 0.7 on a ten-point scale. To find out what happens before that age, we develop child-specific scales to measure the effect of personality and life satisfaction domains on childhood happiness. With an internet-based survey, we collect unique data from 9 to 14 year old Australian children. We find an even steeper happiness decline before the age of 14. Surprisingly, the "environment" domain has no significant effect on childhood happiness, whilst the children's "school" and "interaction with friends" domains explain over 40% of the decline in childhood happiness. The decline in childhood happiness is steepest when the children transition from lower grade school to high school. As expected, extraverted children are happier, but unexpectedly, so are conscientious children. The paper ends with a discussion of the possibilities for promoting happiness maximising programmes in schools.
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